Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Goals, friendships, history made at inaugural event

From Chad Eddy, founder of the Make CF History campaign

Back in February, the Organizing Committee held our first meeting (at the Donatos at Easton) to discuss how we were going to deliver our vision for the inaugural Make CF History Charity Classic hockey tournament. During that meeting, we established that our priority first and foremost would be from the player's perspective, and creating for them an experience that would be second-to-none. Our goal was to create a tournament experience and an environment such that they would feel special, and taken care of.

The Player's Perspective

Our vision was brought to life this past weekend (June 3rd through the 5th) thanks to the commitment and hard work of our countless supporters - our Organizing Committee, our sponsors, the broader community, and of course our volunteers. Below are some of the comments and feedback we've received from the players over the past few days:
"One of the best tourney’s I have ever played in."
"This was the best [tournament] hands down."
"I've played in a lot of tournaments, and this was hands down one of the most well run."

"I've never played in a tournament where I got to compete in a skills competition too. That's pretty cool."
"I would really like to see this tournament continue and grow into something greater."

"You put on a first-class event."

"[we] were blown away with the jerseys and socks and, well the whole thing."

"It's safe to say that [we] will be back next year."

Success for this event will always be defined by the player's perspective, and by how many of them come back year after year. I hope we are off to good start in this respect, and we can't thank the players enough for their support and participation in our inaugural event!

Fund-raising Perspective

Secondly, our priority was to raise awareness and money for Cystic Fibrosis. As a rough guess, we set a goal to raise $10,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Central Ohio Chapter. Being an inaugural event, we simply didn't know what to expect, but $10,000 seemed like a fair number.

As of the time of this writing, the results of our fund raising efforts reflect that the inaugural event thus far has raised approximately $10,470 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - exceeding our goal of $10,000! Key contributors to exceeding our goal were: donations for the public skate and stick-and-puck were double our anticipated target; monies from the silent and live auctions, as well as the raffle, were triple our anticipated target; and lastly, private donations made from the general public throughout the weekend, which were unanticipated.

Still yet to be determined are the proceeds from the sale of the photographs from the weekend. As we all know, hockey players love to see pictures of themselves in action, and there are plenty of them. Our outstanding photographers, Bernie Beck and Ross Benton, worked tirelessly all weekend to capture all of the action, and have posted the photos on their website - They are donating 50% of all proceeds from the sale of these pictures to the CF Foundation, so we encourage all of the players and their friends and family to purchase their favorite pictures from the weekend, and help us continue to drive our overall contribution to the CF Foundation.

The rest of the story...

One of my favorite books is The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. It's the story of pursuing one's dreams, and from it is my favorite quote: "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” These are the stories from the weekend about a universe that conspired to help us achieve our goal.

The $100 Dollar Bill

On Sunday morning, I was making my rounds to all the teams following their final game to express my thanks and present them with their team photo. The first team I spoke with were the Barons. In expressing my thanks, I informed them that our fund-raising goal was $10,000 and that after some late-night math, we were at $9,900. Out of the corner of my eye and amid the applause, I noticed a player next to me reaching into his pant pocket. He turned and handed me a rolled-up dollar bill. I didn't look at it, I just said thank you. I turned to leave the locker room, and in doing so opened up the bill to see that he handed me a $100 dollar bill....putting us at our goal of $10,000! Admittedly, as I walked down the hall making my way towards the lobby, I couldn't help but break down. Thank you, Tom Jaroscak, for being a part of the world which conspired in helping us achieve our goal!!

The Man from Pittsburgh

On Sunday morning, a man approached me and asked how he can make a donation. I told him to write a check to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and that I would be happy to deliver it to them. He shook my hand and thanked me for bringing together two wonderful things: Hockey and a good cause. He explained that he was from Pittsburgh, and that he was there to see his daughter's fiance play. He heard about the event from his daughter and had to drive in to see it and be a part of it. He disappeared for a few moments, then re-appeared and gave me a check for his donation to the CF Foundation.

The Player in the Lobby

On Sunday morning, a player came up to me to thank me for putting on the event and for the efforts to support the CF Foundation. He went on to explain that he lost a brother to CF at the age of 26, and also has a 40-year old sister living with CF. He said when he heard about the tournament that there was no question about signing up to play. He asked me if my plan was to do this again next year. "Absolutely.", I replied. "That's great, I'll look forward to coming back.", he said. How could I not after hearing a story like that?

The Family from Michigan

I met a family from Michigan, whose son was playing in the tournament. I learned that they have a family member with CF, and they simply wanted to come down to support the event. Their family member with CF couldn't make it down for the weekend because of a commitment to another CF fund-raising event, but they asked if we would consider moving the date for next year so they can all come down together. Absolutely! We will be moving the date for next year's event.

The Emcee

I first reached out to Stephanie Greegor on Twitter, asking her if she would be interested in being our MC as well as doing some coverage of the event. "Yes, and Yes!", she replied. I later learned that her cousin has a daughter with CF as well, and they both were on-hand for a ceremonial puck drop on Friday night, as well as throughout the weekend. We can't thank Stephanie enough for her support and participation in the event, and hope that she comes back each and every year!!

The Camaraderie

I received an email from my good friend and teammate Chuck Scott late Friday night (actually, early Saturday morning) passing along to me some positive feedback that he received from some of the players from the Detroit team. Putting 1 and 1 together: the late night email, a guy from Columbus mingling with guys from Detroit - Chuck had been out late enjoying some adult beverages with the guys from another team (from another state!). I later learned that Chuck was kind enough to show the out-of-town guys where to go for a good drink and a good time. Chuck was on a first-name basis with the Detroit boys throughout the weekend, and new friendships were formed.

The Family Affair

This inaugural event weekend was a family affair for me personally. My wife's cousin Kevin created the tournament logo (gratis) which got it all started. My father-in-law Nick (A.K.A. "Old School") played on Team Frici, and was a big supporter of the event. My brother John (back, right in picture) flew in from Denver on his own dime and volunteered his time to referee the games. My sister Sarah drove in from Chicago with her daughter, Gabby, to be at the event as well. Gabby (front, center in picture) is my niece and God Daughter, and was born with CF. Gabby and her older sister Madison (who is also living with CF) are the inspiration behind The Make CF History campaign, which I founded in 2006 with the goal of raising $1 million for CF research.

The Final Word...

It goes without saying that one of the biggest benefits of an event like this is getting to meet new people, people who we might not have had a chance to meet otherwise. The weekend was full of powerful moments like the ones above, where seemingly random people came together for a common purpose. And friends and family who came together from near and far to show their support.

The fact that we achieved our fund-raising goal is secondary to the fact that the event itself fostered new friendships, and established our foundation for future events. My sincerest gratitude goes out to the players, our sponsors, our volunteers and my family for making our inaugural event a success!

Alchemy is defined as the process of transforming base metal matter into gold. And that is how I will always view our inaugural event - a time when people, and products, and time, and energy came together to form "gold".

I look forward to seeing everyone again next year!